Diabetes and Reality

From Evangeline's PURE photo shoot

I don't watch much TV, I watch LOST and the Thursday night 7:00pm to 9:00pm block on NBC, Community,  Parks and Recreations, The Office and Thirty Rock. The other night on Parks and Recreations they did a show about a telethon fund raiser for diabetes. There were many jokes about fat people, over eating, lack of exercise, etc. They were, obvious to me, referring to Type 2 diabetes, but there is no way that was obvious to anyone that is not familiar with type 1 diabetes. At one point in the show the lead character says "There are two types of Diabetes" but she never expounds on that.

I know that show is humor, the goal is to make people laugh, not educate the public on diabetes. But that show is just one example of what my daughter, a type one diabetic, has to deal with. She is a teenager in a self obsessed, appearance dominated world, and people think that she has a fat person's disease. Something she could cure, fix, maintain, if she wasn't fat..wait, she's not fat, she's thin.

See, we have to endure commercials that flat out say "this new diet will cure diabetes..this herb will increase the insulin your pancreas makes and cure your diabetes..Dr. So-and-So says if you only exercise, your diabetes will be cured" etc.. Never once do any of these commercials say they are talking about Type 2 diabetes, NOT Type 1.

What Evangeline has is not cured by any diet, any herb, any exercise.

Type One diabetes is DIFFERENT then type 2. With type one, the pancreas doesn't work any more at all because the immune system attacked it and destroyed it like a virus or illness. That is why type one is also called "Insulin dependent" diabetes because E would die if she went only a couple days with out insulin being injected into her body via her pump (some people take shots) There is no cure for type one diabetes, injected insulin is a treatment for it and keeps her alive but it is not a cure.

Type two diabetes is different. It is mostly the result of an over worked pancreas, one that becomes worn out and/or organs that are worn out also from being over worked trying to process the intake of carbohydrates.  Americans especially are more sedentary, earlier in life, and eat a heavy carbohydrate diet, which all leads to type 2 diabetes. Most type 2 diabetics can be cured by exercise, losing weight and eating less carbs and better carbs.

So when a show like Parks and Recreation makes fun of "diabetes" and all the fat, unhealthy jokes are flying, but no clarification as to which diabetes they are talking about, it just makes me mad.

My daughter was a healthy 2 year old baby when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she was put into ICU after an idiot doctor missed all her symptoms for a month. She is now two months shy of being 14 years old. She has been living with 5 to 10 finger sticks a day to monitor her blood sugar, multiple shots per day until she was 6 yrs old and went on an insulin pump, she has had seizures, has been ran to the ER more times then I can remember, missed classes, missed fun, scraped icing off cake, not been able to eat the pizza, not been able to participate in PE cuz her blood sugar was too high, had kids make fun of her, run from her, tell her "at least I don't have diabetes" NONE of that could have been prevented with a diet or exercise. Only a miracle of God healing her pancreas or giving science the means to a cure will make her not have diabetes any more. And I guess I would just like the stupid shows, stupid advertisers and stupid health food nuts to just let the world know they are not talking about type 1 diabetes, they are talking about type 2!!

I remember when E was about 3 years old. She was in the car seat,  I was driving and she said "Mommy, when I grow up I'm gonna take this bracelet off (her Medic Alert bracelet) and I won't have diabetes anymore" I felt like someone had punched me in the chest and I choked back tears as I told her that, no, even if she took the bracelet off, she would still have diabetes, unless God healed her or doctors came up with a cure, she would always have it. She started to cry, "I don't want to have diabetes anymore! I hate it mommy! I hate it!" I started bawling, I tried not to heave and cry but it was impossible. "baby, I know, I hate it too. I'm so sorry you have to stick your finger all the time and do shots.  I'm so sorry I can't take it from you because I would Evangeline, if I could I would have diabetes instead of you" we both cried and cried. It was awful, really awful.

Over the years we have had many similar times of crying and talking about the trials of living with diabetes. But now, well, it's just our life. She goes through spells where she just doesn't want to deal with it and these times are bad for us all but we get through it and it gets manageable again. No one that doesn't have type one diabetes, really knows what she lives with, how hard it is to be a child that has such responsibility, so much to have to think about all the time. For 12 years her life has revolved around food, what she eats, when, and how much insulin she has to give herself so that her body gets what it needs from the food. Unless God heals her or a cure is found, her life will always be like that.

A couple weeks ago Evangeline was at the HPC Highland Campus for church service. Stoval Weems was the guest speaker. He talked about his heart illness, about the testimony our life is while we are suffering, how we deal with illness and suffering sometimes is a greater witness then God healing us of it. Evangeline went to the altar at the end of his sermon. Ms. Alliece, my mentor and friend, prayed with her for a very long time and Evangeline said God really touched her. She said sometimes she just has a hard time dealing with the illness, the suffering, the huge responsibility that is her life as a diabetic.

I guess that's why I just get so mad. I want her life to be easier not harder. I want people to know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to be kind to people suffering with both, especially my little girl.

Shows like the Parks and Recreation episode the other night perpetuate the misunderstanding. I know it's not serious to them, but it is very serious to me.


Anonymous said…
My nephew, Matthew @ the age of 12 months was diagnosed w/type I. We almost lost him for there were no pediatric Endocrinologists in B.R. @ the time. He had to be air lifted to N.O. He was the youngest to ever be diagnosed in this area. My niece, Victoria,13 a few weeks shy of 14,(she too is thin) Matthew's sister was just rushed to the hospital recently & diagnosed w/Type I. As the endocrinologists look & study they are making some strides. One is the predisposition to the disease coupled w/a virus or illness that "sets Type I off, so to speak". There are many avenues being investigated. The doctors will be looking more closely @ Matthew & Victoria because they are siblings & this is rare to have siblings w/Type I. Hopefully insight & cure will come from this. We continue to pray for a miraculous healing from the Lord & or He give one of His "THE CURE" for His glory, Amen.
Anonymous said…
I am reading this and crying because my beautiful grandaughter has to deal with this horrible disease. I remember when she was first diagnosed and you had to give her, her first shot in the hospital. We both looked at each other trying not to cry but not succeeding. I will never forget that look of saddness on your face. I wish I could take it from her. I hate it too E. I love y'all, Love MOM
Anonymous said…
Why not be angry that they are making fun of people all together? Why just get upset at what personally effects you? It is ALL wrong.....
Carole Turner said…
This post is about the misinformation, the lumping all diabetes together when there is a huge difference in the cause and treatment of each type. There is also the fact that a type 2 diabetic would not necessarily die without injected insulin, a type 1 like my daughter would. Thr point is not that they were making fun, the point is the perpetuation of misinformation.
Anonymous said…
This is a very touching post Carole. It breaks my heart to think of the burden on both of you, her desire to be free from this disease, and your desire to take it from her. E is such a blessing, and you have a right to be frustrated with the misinformation, but like you said, those particular shows are all about getting people to laugh regardless of what is accurate or who they hurt at the expense of the punch line.
Jeff Maggio

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